British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom
Lord Archer of Sandwell, QC, addressed a conference at the British Parliament organized by the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom on December 7, 2006. More than 25 Members of Parliament and Peers attended the conference and declared their support for the call by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), for democratic change in Iran. The following is the text of Lord Archer's speech:
The purpose of this meeting today is to launch our new policy paper. Many of us in this room have met together on numerous occasions over the years. Usually we have reviewed events inside Iran. We have discussed the appalling assaults on human rights – the arrests, the tortures, the blinding and mutilations, the public hangings, the executions of children, stoning, and they go on. The number of executions appear to have increased further in 2006. Iran is now the only country in the world which still executes children.
At the end of September, says amnesty, there were a new wave of arrests and detentions, particularly targeting human rights activists, and spokespersons for minority communities, like the Azeries. By chance, 2 days ago, I was speaking with a lady whose family live in Iran. She isn’t part of the resistance. She told me her families were Bahais. Some years ago her uncle invited some other Bahais to his house. It was a private occasion, it was political, and they certainly weren't plotting against the regime. But it came to the ears of the revolutionary guards that they had met. Her uncle was arrested, tortured and sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. He has never fully recovered.
We have discussed the stifling of democracy. We have discussed suppression and the closing of news media.
We have discussed the relegation of women into second class citizens. We could continue to discuses today, however every week giving new examples.
It is right that our major concern should be with the impact of the mullah's regime on the Iranian people. The mullahs say it is not our concern it is an internal matter, its not the business of the rest of the world!
The world agreed nearly 60 years ago (UN) that human rights are the business of the world. It is the business of the rest of the world. However the human race is indivisible. Events in any part of the world sooner or later affect the whole human race. If freedom is suppressed anywhere, it is in danger everywhere.
At these meetings we used to take notice of how many times the human rights record of the Iranian regime had been considered in committees and the organs of the UN. At almost every meeting there was yet another condemnation to add to the score. As recently as the 21st of November the 3rd committee approved a resolution expressing serious concern at the continuing harassment, intimidation and persecution of human rights defenders, non governmental organizations, political opponents, religious dissenters and….
The regime has now been the subject of UN resolutions on 53 occasions, but it is not only the atrocities within Iran which have made the crimes of the mullahs the business of the world. They themselves have deliberately made it so.
Back in 1979, the Ayatollah Khomeini said that the Islamic revolution provides the ground for continuation of the revolution inside and outside the country. He said the 'army of the Islamic republic and the revolutionary guards carry not only the duty of protecting the borders but also an ideological duty. I had for many years struggled to spread the rule of god in the world'. God's law, of course, as interpreted by the Ayatollahs. And ever since the mullahs have been at the center of a web of terrorism, atrocities in Saudi Arabia, the Yemen, Libya, Lebanon, Madrid, Paris, not only against non believers but against other Muslims that don’t have their fundamentalist creed. This obsession with exporting and expanding the jihad has never gone away. A week before the attacks on London by suicide bombers, the president of Iran said 'the wave of the Islamic revolution will soon reach the entire world.' Now they have exported it to Iraq. The Daily Telegraph reported senior British military officials as saying that there is very strong intelligence that Iran is funding and supporting the gun running which is responsible for so much bloodshed and there is no welcome for Iranian intelligence from the people of Iraq, who have only to find peace and begin to rebuild their country and that is evidenced by the statement signed by over 5 million Iraqi citizens, condemning the intelligence of the Iranian regime and supporting the PMOI members living peacefully in Iraq until they are free to return to Iran.
So the repression of the Iranian people within the borders could never be argued to be an internal affair. The spread of terrorism could certainly not be considered an internal affair. The regime itself declared that it isn’t, and demonstrated that it isn’t. But we have now entered a new dimension. In 2002, when the Iranian Resistance disclosed the existence of the uranium enrichment site in Natanz, the world knew, even if it hadn’t strongly suspected before, that there was a major enrichment program. Even had it been intended for purely peaceful uses, it would still have been in flagrant breach of the regimes obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Of course the government said it was for peaceful purposes, they needed it to provide energy. A regime which already controls endless supplies of oil was going to embark on massive capital expenditure. Even had it been intended for purely peaceful uses, it would still have been in breach of Iran's obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and International Atomic Energy Authority pointed that out. But they haven't fooled anyone. Last February, Jack Straw, who was never guilty of picking a quarrel with the mullahs' regime, told the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, the only power station currently being built is the one at Bushehr, which relies on fuel exclusively from Russia. They were seeking to develop a research heavy water reactor which produces plutonium, not necessarily the best buy if you are generating electricity. But an essential buy if you are trying to make hydrogen bombs.
So why would they want a nuclear capability. In this country we are having a debate about the need for a nuclear deterrent. We need a nuclear capability- so the argument runs, not in order to threaten anyone else, but to deter anyone else from attacking us. Whatever the merits of that argument, can anyone believe that the mullahs' regime is seeking a nuclear capability simply to deter other countries from attacking them? It is obvious that they need it for exporting the Islamic revolution in the light of the presidents desire to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.
How, then, should the rest of the world react and that is the principle subject of our policy paper. They have tried negotiating, the problem about that is that it is pointless to do a deal with a regime which thinks that promises are something you use when you cannot get your own way by bullying. They aren’t something you take seriously. In October 2003 they made a solemn promise to the US that they would suspend the uranium enrichment programme and ratify the additional protocol the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, agreeing to admit inspectors who could make unannounced inspections. They failed to keep either promise. In the same month, they repeated those undertakings to the EU3. Yet 12 months after their October deal, EU3 made further concessions in exchange for the very same promise the mullahs had made the year before and broken.
The second possibility is some form of military action. But we have seen the consequences of military invasions. You don’t make the world safer by launching a war. But there is a third possibility open. The very fact that the regime is anxious to negotiate for the lifting of the economic sanctions which America presently operates, indicates that they are prepared to come to terms with the international community in order to avoid economic sanctions. So there is a peaceful way forward. Japan has already suspended its 10 billion dollar program of projects in Iran. A worldwide embargo on the purchase of Iranian oil could bring about the breakthrough. Of course there are those who say that sanctions can bring hardship not only to the national leadership but to the population. That would be a serious consideration if the population enjoyed the oil revenues. The whole proceeds are sunk into military expenditure, that is why 90 percent of the population is living below the poverty line. But we know, don’t we, that the only solution which will offer long term security to the world is to consign this regime to the dustbin of history and that is what the Iranian people are seeking.
The mullahs themselves are complaining of the constant demonstrations on the streets, of the protests by students, of the strike by bus drivers. Even the repression, the arrests and the tortures cannot suppress them. The people of Iran have shown their hunger for freedom with a courage which will be celebrated by future generations.
History has shown time and again that a change of regime cannot be imposed from outside, it cannot be imposed from the top down, it must come from the people, and it will come, because their hearts and minds are steeled to bring it about. We saw that in the collapse of the shahs' regime, but it needs co-ordination and leadership and that can come only from the National Council of Resistance. But its authority is undermined when the USA and Europe are badmouthing it. To label the PMOI as terrorists is to help protect the terrorist regime from the very campaigners who could bring about its dissolution and it gives rise to strong suspicions that it is part of a program to appease the regime that it may be a conclusion of a deal between Western governments and the mullahs. And that would be a shameful trick. Whether any groups of people are terrorists are a question to be decided on the evidence, it’s a question of facts not a matter of convenience. To trade the human rights of individuals against a diplomatic settlement violates everything for which the west claims to stand. And it would be casting away our principles for promises by those whose promises are worthless. I believe that the world faces a crossroads; one way could lead to a catastrophe, which we will still have time to avert. For realizing Mrs. Rajavi's dream, the other way leads to a new future for the Iranian people, and to a secure and stable world, in which Iran will take its rightful place.